For Hallowe’en …

… An interactive graphic novel.

It’s probably not for the faint of heart in education.  After all, so many have lost the term “Hallowe’en” in favour of “Black and Orange” day even though the term is used everywhere else in society.

If you’re a horror movie fan, then this weekend with Turner Classic Movies was just great.  It had been years since I enjoyed the 1931 Dracula movie with Bela Lugosi.  There was Lugosi before there was Vincent Price.  And, Vincent Price turned so many stories into masterpieces.  His efforts with Edgar Allan Poe’s stories are legend.

I have a collection of Poe’s novels on the bookshelf behind me but I’ve never seen his works in graphic novel format.  A recent post from Richard Byrne “7 Halloween Lesson Activities for Elementary School Students” turned me on to one.

The site is “The Pit and the Pendulum – Interactive Comic Book“.

If you’re a fan of Poe or the genre, the site is rich in background including details about the Spanish Inquisition which set the scene for Poe’s novel.  

There are two stars of the multimedia show here.  One is the video “The Pit and the Pendulum short film“.  The second is the graphic novel, available in PDF format from the site.

But, Doug.  I’ve heard that PDF is where good ideas go to die.

That’s a sound bite from a professional speaker.  It’s sad when a wide-sweeping generalization is made like that.  

PDF files can be so much more.

This graphic novel demonstrates that.  You could print it out, bind it, and read it.  But you’d be missing the important interactive part.

As you read through the novel, you’ll find QR Codes – you know what to do – scan them and you’ll be whisked away somewhere.  More than that, though, keep your eyes open as you read the book.  And keep your mouse moving.  

You’ll discover mouse overs that link from the novel to the web as well.  Some resolve to Vimeo videos, others to web resources.  It brings the experience alive.

It’s a wonderful merger of a great novel and technology.  You’ll absolutely want to preview it to see if it is appropriate for your classroom.  

If you want a new look at a classic, I think you’ll find it very engaging.  And, it might give you a few ideas for constructing something similar for yourself.


OTR Links 10/31/2016

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Whatever happened to …

… Google Reader?

The idea for this post came from @mauilbrarian2 who claims in the padlet

I was a huge Google Reader fan!

Now I get by with Feedly. And bookmarked Twitter searches. And for must-see-daily topics. And to a lesser degree, Google+ notifications.  

I’d almost forgotten about Google Reader.  It was a terrific product at the time and I used it on a daily basis as well.  It was a news curator; you just feed it the feed (in the beginning RSS) and it brought the latest and greatest news to you.  Then, one day, Google announced that it was going to discontinue the service.  I suppose that the closest thing that Google provides now is Google News which does collect news stories.  And, often, there are stories that interest me.  It’s just that I’m not in complete control of what I read.
Like @mauilbrarian2, I followed the advice given at the time of the announcement that the Reader service was going to go away and moved my collection to Feedly.  In a strange case of doing things right, by accident, I had told my instance of Flipboard to include Google Reader when I originally set it up.  Flipboard appears to have done what the move to Feedly did, it ignored the Google part and imported all the news feeds into its format.  So, in reality, I have everything that I always had with Google Reader tucked away into Flipboard.  Win for me.
Feedly is a terrific service and I had my bookmarks good to go and would add new ones as they came along.  Then, on day, Stephen Downes shared his entire list via an OPML file.  This was the holy grail of collections from my perspective.  If you follow Stephen or subscribe to his OLDaily, you know that he’s one of the most read researchers you’ll come across.  Some of the topics that he writes and offers commentary about are over my head but that’s OK.  There’s plenty of other things to read and learn from.
Similarly, I had a collection of bookmarked Twitter searches.  I think it only makes sense.  It’s here that you get news on interesting topics – as they happen.  It’s nothing for me to watch the news and do a search for a term while watching the news.  At times, I get more current results than what is being currently read to me by the news anchor.  I think it’s also important to the connected citizen that you search and monitor yourself on social media.  As a result, I have a standing search for “dougpete” and “” in my Hootsuite browser.  I don’t want to miss anything.
I’m a big fan of Ontario Education bloggers and have them curated in a couple of places – a Livebinder and a Scoopit feed.  They have essentially the same content but are displayed in different ways.
I also like to think that I’m connected to the best of the web.  I use to pull together the latest from them.  At one time, I used to keep it to myself but I was showing it to someone once and they said “It’s too bad that I can’t read that”.  Well, has a publish to Twitter feature and so you’ll see Twitter messages from me periodically showing what has found.

The only limitation is that I have no control over the content that’s generated. does the heavy lifting from the people who are on the lists (they’re generated from Twitter lists).  So, if someone goes off the deep end, it might end up as a curated story here <gasp>.  It’s called living on the wild side.  Since the bulk of who I follow are educators and technology people/things, they’re pretty much focused on those topics.  A neat feature is that shuffles “how” the message is formed and will often tag people who contribute.

Who doesn’t like to follow a good contributor or hashtag?  For me, it was a “set it and forget it” operation.  It’s all automated and I (and anyone else who cares) gets the benefits from reading the stories that are curated.

Now it’s time for your thoughts.

  • Were you a user of Google Reader?  How did its demise affect you?
  • Do you have a favourite news reading service or technique?  How about sharing it here?
  • How do you monitor your social media profile?
  • Do you share or retweet stories that you read and find interesting so that others can enjoy it as well?

As always on a Sunday, I’m curious to hear your thoughts.

Please share them via comment below.

Do you have an idea or thought that would be appropriate for my “Whatever happened to … ” series of blog posts like @mauilbrarian2 did?  They can all, by the way, be revisited here.

Please visit this Padlet and add your idea.  I’d love for it to be an inspiration for a post!

OTR Links 10/30/2016

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Visiting a Warship

Living near the Detroit River, we get the opportunity to see many types of boats and ships going up and down the river.  Lots of pleasure craft, lake and ocean shippers, and the occasional Coast Guard boat are regular sightings.

This was something different.  The United States Navy had just commissioned the USS Detroit (LCS-7) and it was docked on the Canadian side of the river at Dieppe Park at the foot of Ouellette Avenue in Windsor.  It was an opportunity to see (fairly) up close one of the latest additions to the US Navy.  So, we took off nice and early to check it out.  I’d done some reading and it certainly sounded impressive.  

Fastest warship in U.S. fleet visits Windsor.

Sadly, there wasn’t a public tour that we could find but we did park and walk up to check it out.  

While it was docked right alone the edge of the river, it wasn’t possible to get very close due to the fencing in place to keep us away.  Taking a picture was pretty tough; there were lots of trees and machinery in the road so any picture I could take wouldn’t really do it justice.

It’s tough to describe the ship.  It’s certainly not attractive by cruise ship status.  The best description that I could think was that it appeared to be like a floating tank.  Two shades of grey and that’s about it.  You’re left to guess at the functionality of everything that you could see.  On the other hand, it was never the intention to win a beauty contest; there’s no doubt that it’s a military ship and it looked every bit of it.  I’m sure that, to the right eyes, it was a very beautiful ship.  The link above shows some professional pictures from the local newspaper.

But, it has a website!  And a presence on Facebook.

And you have an opportunity to take a virtual tour.

The tour incorporates 360 degree visuals and videos.  These all add to the impressiveness of the ship.  It’s well worth the time to explore a bit.  I can’t help but remark that the bridge certainly resembles the bridge of the Enterprise from Star Trek.

So, Canada was its first foreign port of call.  It’s nice that the first such visit was to a friendly country.

Awe isn’t a word that I use in this context very often.  But, being this close to the Detroit, I can’t think of a better word to describe the experience.

OTR Links 10/29/2016

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

What better way to end the week than by reading some inspirational thoughts from Ontario Educators.

Here’s some of what I caught this past week.

One Thing Everyone Needs

This message is something that everyone needs to take to heart.  It’s from a recent post from Sue Dunlop.  It’s not a long read so take a moment.

We all want to be noticed, valued and to belong. A big fanfare is not always needed, but those moments of quiet recognition that say, “I see you, and you are valued” are powerful.

In the education context, I think that we naturally think about a teacher’s recognition of a student.  Of course.

Then, you might want to turn to an administrator’s approach to staff.  Of course.

These are important reminders for everyone; it’s far too easy to forget when you get wrapped up in the course of the day.

But I think of one other time.

What if students were accustomed to coming up to a teacher at the end of a class and gives a similar message?  Wouldn’t that be something?  In education, we get it at Christmas time or at the end of the year.  How motivating it would be if the message came after a particularly challenging lesson where the teacher has laid awake for nights preparing and then really has to work it in the class..

Some advice I give my students

That’s a perfect lead in to this post from Brandon Grasley.  He shares his words of wisdom that he shares with his students.

Gems like:

“You won’t look back in ten years and wish you had been meaner in high school. No matter how nice you think you are now, when you’re older you’ll see it differently. So be kinder than you think you should be now.”

That niceness should also include an approach to the teacher.  We’ve all taught things that we weren’t 100% sure of.  Certainly, students recognize that they struggle with their learning at times.  Is teaching any different?

Leave Work at Work

These words of advice are fleshed out in this post from Matthew Morris.

I think that all educators are compassionate and want to do the very best.  They will bring home thoughts about the day and even reflect on how to cherish them or think of ways to avoid it in the future.  It’s the nature of the beast.  It’s a good suggestion; personally, I don’t think I could ever totally do it though.

Many Unanswered Questions About EQAO Online Test Failure

I don’t think there’s an educator in the province who wasn’t either directly affected or unaware of the issues that arose from the attempt at putting the EQAO OSSLT test online.  Andrew Campbell pulls together a number of his own thoughts and Twitter messages from people affected.  If you’re looking for a collection of them all in one place, it’s here.

It’s a huge undertaking when you think of all of the students accessing the test online at once, with different browsers – heck even getting enough computers available for students can be a challenge at times.  Consider all of the regular bandwidth use that a school district has on any given day and then this is added.  There were reports of success but, for the most part, there were issues resulting in the cancellation of the test.

I would love to be a fly on the wall as discussions are made to ensure that it doesn’t happen again when the stakes are even higher.

All of the reports are about the technology failures and finger pointing ensued.  There’s another aspect to all this; what about the students who anguish over their success?  After all, they need to pass the test in order to graduate.  So, they get started, or try to get started only to have the rug pulled from under them.

Andrew follows up on this post with another.

A Kids’ Guide to Canada – By Kids, For Kids Un guide du Canada – par des enfants, pour des enfants

In case you missed it, Cathy Beach was a guest blogger here yesterday.  If you’re any elementary school teacher looking for something unique and connected for Canada’s 150th, this might be the perfect project for you.


One of my favourite activities with learners is the “All About Me” exercise.  I’ve tried a number of different approaches over the years with success in all of them.  I’ve always felt that how learners respond is almost as important as the content of their response.  Rusul Alrubail shares here own thoughts and provides some questions of her own.

This certainly ties back to Sue’s post about about wanting to be recognized.  I think it’s also important to give an opportunity to explore their own thoughts about important global events of the day.  In the area of computer science, for example, the exercise can give students an opportunity to reflect on their own personal ethics.  There’s so much about privacy to get the conversation started.

Teaching Hub: Post Nine, Week Eight

This post, from the FlemingLDS team is rich in support for their clients.  Beyond that, they lay out a plan for a flipped learning event.  Would the same plan work at your school?

Do you know what “flipped learning” means? If you ask the Learning Design & Support Team, they’d probably tell you that it is either learning how to do a flip, or that you can learn anything whilst flipping on a trampoline. They try, they really do, but sometimes you gotta wonder about them.


Two things that make the Bring IT, Together conference unique go beyond the workshops, keynotes, and breakout sessions.  In this blog post, take a look at other ways that you can interact and grow with other Ontario Educators.

  • The Learning Space is a place for conversation. Facilitators are booked in to guide the conversation around some debatable topics.
  • The Innovation Stations grew out of a need for networking, conversation, and informal sharing. These are booths set up around the dining area during the lunch break on Thursday and Friday.


So, you’re going to go to the conference.  Great.

Beyond the learning, the conference is a terrific place to meet those people you interact with online.  Here are some tips to make the most from the event.

There. That’s got to do it. Your weekly fix for what’s going on around the province.  Did you know that you can read all of the past issues here?  If you’re an Ontario education blogger, consider adding yourself to the list.  Also, while I do a lot of reading, if you’ve written something you’d like me to read, please let me know.